On this day …….. 23rd of August 1930

Topsy, the star performing elephant of Sole Brothers Circus, caused a sensation in South Brisbane when she broke from her tether, ran amok, pushed her head through the plate-glass of a shop window, and did a clumsy waltz like she does in the ring.” Attendants finally led her away. “Too much good feed” was the explanation for Topsy’s jamboree.


On this day …….. 15th of August 1945

Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley announces the end of the war against Japan, on what is now known as VP Day (Victory in the Pacific) in Australia.

On 14 August 1945, Japan accepted the Allied demand for unconditional surrender following the devastating atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On this day, Emperor Hirohito accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, also known as the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender. On 15 August 1945, Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley officially announced the end of the war against Japan. August 15 has subsequently been commemorated as “Victory in the Pacific” or “VP Day” since then. Japan’s formal surrender took place two and a half weeks later, on 2 September, when Japanese envoys boarded the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay and officially signed the surrender document. Under the Potsdam Declaration, to this day Japan’s sovereignty remains confined to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, along with some minor islands determined by the allies. VP Day is also known as VJ (Victory over Japan) Day in other countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand. The day is still observed with respect by veterans and members of the Defence forces.


An Australian emu escaped from a farm in the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand’s South Island in November 2010. The local cop was called and when he arrived on the scene he saw the emu chasing a group of kids down the street in Ocean Bay. With the help of a few locals the emu was herded into a paddock until he was taken back to the farm.


Six mass murders, with a total of 43 victims, occurred between 1990 and 1997.

David Gray

Thirteen people were killed in Aramoana in 1990 by 33-year-old David Gray, including police constable Stewart Guthrie. During a siege the next day, Gray was shot dead by police.

Brian Schlaepfer

In 1992 in Paerātā, south of Auckland, 64-year-old Brian Schlaepfer murdered his wife, his three sons, the wife of one of his sons and a grandson. He then killed himself. Schlaepfer’s granddaughter Linda survived the killings by barricading herself in a bedroom.

Raymond Ratima

Seven members of his family were killed in Masterton by 25-year-old Raymond Ratima in 1992, including three of his own children. Ratima and his wife were having problems in their relationship, and were living with her parents. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Bain family killings

Five members of the Bain family were killed in Dunedin in 1994. In 1995 22-year-old David Bain, the only survivor, was convicted of murdering his mother, his father, his two sisters and his younger brother. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 16-year non-parole period.

From the start there was controversy over whether David was responsible or whether his father had killed the others and then shot himself. After an appeal to the Privy Council succeeded in 2007, there was a retrial in the Christchurch High Court and Bain was acquitted in 2009.

Alan Lory

Six residents of the New Empire Hotel in Hamilton died when Alan Lory (41) set fire to the building in 1995. Lory was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter and arson, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Lory was released in 2009.

Stephen Anderson

22-year-old Stephen Anderson killed six people and wounded another eight at a ski lodge in Raurimu, south-east of Taumarunui, on 8 February 1997. Some of the dead were family and friends who had been invited to join the Anderson family for the weekend. Found to be legally insane, Anderson was committed to secure psychiatric care. He was freed from care in 2009 but recalled in 2011. He was again released and worked as a tutor at a Wellington art school, but lost his job after his position was the subject of a 2014 newspaper article.


Why the 1990s generated so many mass murders is a difficult question to answer. During this decade and the previous one, a spate of ‘amok’ murders occurred in America, Europe and Australia. Similar events in New Zealand were part of this global trend. Researchers have suggested that high levels of unemployment, economic instability and growing social inequality during these decades may have contributed to the clustering of mass murders in New Zealand in the 1990s.
Stephen Anderson, Alan Lory, Bain family killings, Raymond Ratima, David Gray, Brian Schlaepfer, New Zealand, Six Mass Murders

Two origins have been suggested for the name of New Zealand’s rugby team, the All Blacks. One theory is based on the fact that Maoris have been included in the team since the first overseas tour in the late 1880s. The other suggestion origin goes back to 1905 when an English journalist cabled that the team played like “All Backs” and a transmission error resulted in the letter L being inserted.